John Mellencamp Remembers Pete Seeger
01.29.2014 - Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger passed away Monday, January 27, 2014. John had developed a friendship with Pete and was a vocal supporter and fan of his work. Pete was 94.
When word of Pete Seeger's death reached John, he issued a statement where he commented, "Pete Seeger always tried to make the world a better place through his music and activism. His lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and to addressing the plight of the downtrodden has been an inspiration to all those who have championed society's victims and have done what they could to combat injustice. His music and commitment was more powerful than a thousand armies. We are fortunate that he lit the way for so long."
Later, he told the New York Times, " Probably my most inspirational moment with Pete was playing at his 90th birthday concert, at Madison Square Garden. I asked him, ‘What do you think of this?’ He said, ‘It’s awfully nice. But you know, if you want to make a difference, you’ve got to keep things small. Keep it small, John. These big things are fine occasionally, but they make a big noise and then people forget them.’ And I think he was right. Farm Aid is an example: it’s small, but we keep plugging away.”
At the 90th birthday celebration for Pete, John covered Pete's "If I Had A Hammer" and performed his own Seeger inspired "A Ride Back Home." John and Pete teamed up again at the 2013 Farm Aid Concert in Saratoga Springs NY. Pete joined John, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Dave Matthews to sing "This Land Is Your Land" and "If I Had A Hammer."
By David Lindquist -
Hoosier rock star John Mellencamp shared the stage with Pete Seeger during
one of the folk singer's final high-profile concert appearances.
Seeger, who died Monday night at age 94, sang a rendition of Woody Guthrie's
"This Land is Your Land" with Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Dave
Matthews during the 2013 Farm Aid concert in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Seeger also
performed his own "If I Had a Hammer" at the Sept. 21 show.
Mellencamp remembered fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Seeger (inducted in
1996 as an "early influence") in a statement released Tuesday:
"Pete Seeger always tried to make the world a better place through his music
and activism. His lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and to addressing
the plight of the downtrodden has been an inspiration to all those who have
championed society's victims and have done what they could to combat injustice.
His music and commitment was more powerful than a thousand armies. We are
fortunate that he lit the way for so long. Pete once gave me a bit of advice,
and I've always tried to remember what he said: 'Keep it small and you will make
a difference.' "
During a 90th birthday tribute to Seeger at New York's Madison Square Garden
in 2009, Mellencamp sang "If I Had a Hammer" and "A Ride Back Home" -- a tune
Mellencamp said he wrote after listening to Seeger's catalog.
Seeger was a banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college
students and starstruck presidents in a career that introduced generations of
Americans to their folk music heritage.
One of his signature compositions, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is
a Season)," became a No. 1 hit for the Byrds in 1965.
In a 2000 interview with The Star, Byrds' vocalist Roger McGuinn said he
studied banjo and guitar as a teenager at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk
Music. Taught by Old Town's Bob Gibson, McGuinn learned about Seeger, who in
turn gave way to Lead Belly.
"Lead Belly was down in Texas in the '20s, working as an itinerant musician,"
McGuinn said. "In a pawn shop, he picked up a 12-string guitar -- which was used
primarily before that by mariachi bands in Mexico. It went from Lead Belly to
Seeger to Gibson, then subsequently thousands."
"A Ride Back Home" live at the Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Celebration
"If I Had A Hammer" live at the Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Celebration
"This Land Is Your Land" live at Farm Aid 2013